Ask a so-called serious journalist to describe what it means to work in public relations or marketing and you're likely to get some colorful answers.
PR is "the dark side," the place news reporters go when they decide to "sell out," the land of puff and fluff. Or so they'll say.
All those arguable characterizations aside, veteran writers, reporters and editors are a snarky bunch, especially if they trace their roots to an print publication in the sniping, biting era before New Media. So it goes without saying that smart PR types tread lightly around them, with the gingerly steps of someone walking barefoot on concrete on the hottest day of the year.
Journalists: No Time for Patience
Hamish Thompson, managing director of London-based Houston PR, understands that reality. And he wants to help by making it easier to communicate with a demographic more likely to hit delete than read what you send day after day after day.
A few years ago Thompson's firm developed an automated PR jargon removal tool. The appropriately named Buzzsaw "strips jargon out of press releases."
All you have to do is cut and paste a press release (or any other speeches, strategy documents, advertising copy or other collections of words) into the box on the page and press the "buzz it" button.
The Buzzsaw does the rest, flagging troublesome phrases like "win rates," "unmatched capabilities" and "low hanging fruit."
Now Houston PR has come up with a list of the 10 most annoying pieces of jargon you can include in a press release. "If you are writing to a correspondent or editor, announce that you are ‘reaching out’ at your peril," Thompson said.
What other overused, meaningless, delete-inducing words and phrases should you avoid?
Here they are, in order of irritation from most irritating to slightly less so:
- Reach out
- Circle back
"Just outside the top ten were ‘bandwidth’, ‘robust’ and ‘evangelist," Thompson said.